The combination of vodka and cranberry were a famous duo in the 1990s. And this legendary combination also builds the base of the Sea Breeze cocktail recipe. The drink follows one of the old cocktail recipe principles: "Mix strong (spirit) with weak (juice) and sweet and sour."
It's a perfect drink for a hot summer day, and something you could sip all day as all you taste are sweet and tart flavors of cranberry and grapefruit.
A tremendous marketing effort from Ocean Spray and Absolut Vodka made this cocktail one of the most popular drinks of the decade. But the cocktail was around for a lot longer before its peak in popularity.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Bar spoon
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- 2.5 oz Cranberry juice
- 1 oz Grapefruit juice
- Add all vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit to a Highball or Collins glass filled with ice.1.5 oz Vodka, 2.5 oz Cranberry juice, 1 oz Grapefruit juice
- Gently stir your Sea Breeze and garnish the cocktail with a lime wheel.
What is a Sea Breeze Drink?
The Sea Breeze is a popular drink from the 1950s made with three simple ingredients: vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice. The sweet and tart flavors of the two fruit juices make this popular drink taste like a spiked fruit punch. It's served in a Highball glass on the rocks and garnished with a lime wedge or peel.
Ingredients in a Sea Breeze cocktail
Traditionally Sea Breeze Cocktails are made with only 3 components:
- Vodka: A quality vodka base is key in tasty vodka cocktails. I prefer options like Absolute and Ketel One due to their high quality and affordable price.
- Cranberry: The cocktail was heavily promoted by Ocean Spray, which is why their cranberry juice is still the most used option in a Sea Breeze cocktail.
- Grapefruit: A few ounces of grapefruit juice add tartness and citrusy flavors to the cocktail that perfectly balance the sweet taste of cranberry juice.
- Lime (optional): If you want to tweak the original template and add more sour flavors to the cocktail, add half an ounce of lime juice to the recipe.
How to Make a Pitcher of Sea Breeze Cocktails
The simple template of this drink has no carbonated component, that makes it easy to create a pitcher of Sea Breeze cocktails:
- 1.5 cups or 12 ounces vodka
- 1 cup or 8 ounces grapefruit juice
- 2.5 cups or 20 ounces cranberry juice
Combine all components in a pitcher and stir until the mixture is combined. Store it in the fridge to chill your Sea Breeze pitcher before serving.
To serve it, pour the drinks over fresh ice and garnish with a wedge of lime or grapefruit.
Variations on the Sea Breeze Drink
Vodka paired with fresh fruit juices is a common way to create simple yet delicious cocktails. Aside from the Sea Breeze, there are many similar drinks you can make with just a few changes.
- Madras: The Madras combines cranberry and orange juice for a unique twist.
- Bay Breeze aka. Hawaiian Sea Breeze: The Bay Breeze cocktail uses a vodka base paired with tropical pineapple juice and cranberry.
- Ocean Breeze: There are different ways to make an Ocean Breeze. Difford's uses the same ingredients as in a Sea Breeze cocktail and adds pineapple juice. Other recipes replace all components, making an Ocean Breeze drink of white rum, blue curaçao, and lemonade.
- Cape Codder: This highball only used vodka and a few ounces of cranberry juice, resulting in a sweeter drink.
- Peach Breeze: By adding an ounce of peach schnapps, the Peach Breeze is a sweeter and more complex cocktail than the classic Sea Breeze.
- Virgin Sea Breeze Cocktail (no alcohol): Substitute ginger ale or club soda for vodka to make an easy yet delicious mocktail.
How to Garnish a Sea Breeze
To serve a Seabreeze cocktail, use a slim and tall glass like a Collins or Highball glass. To garnish the drink, there are several options:
- Lime wedge: The most traditional way to decorate this drink as it also brings a nice color contrast.
- Grapefruit wedge: You can also use the fruit to garnish a Sea Breeze, grapefruit being one of the most natural options.
- Cranberry skewers: Spearing a few cranberries on a cocktail pick makes for a great garnish. To elevate it, use sugared cranberries.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs are always a great way to decorate a cocktail. Use a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint to add some fresh aromas.
- Grenadine float: If you prefer sweet cocktails, try to float half an ounce of grenadine on top of your Sea Breeze.
- Add foam: Add all components into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 8-12 seconds to create an elegant "sea foam." Pour over fresh ice into a Highball or Collins glass.
As ever so often, it is a bit unclear when the Sea Breeze was invented. Researching the roots of the drink, you will find many different decades as possible origins.
Sea Breeze in the Savoy Cocktail Book
Some state the 1980s, while others claim the cocktail is from the 60s. And then you can also find a "Sea Breeze Cooler" in Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book, which was published in 1930.
So it seems most likely that the history of Sea Breeze Cocktail most likely dates back to the end of the 1920s, around the end of the prohibition era.
The recipe for Sea Breeze Cooler Craddock published in his book is very different from today's template. A mix of Gin, Apricot Brandy, lemon juice, and two dashes of grenadine.
Considering his Sea Breeze Cooler also gets topped up with soda water, this cooler seems to be an entirely different drink. However, the overall idea to create a fruity, easy-to-sip drink is definitely recognizable.
The modern Sea Breeze Cocktail
Quite possibly, the change in the recipe is also related to clever marketing by Ocean Spray. To promote their cranberry juice in the 1950s, Oceanspray created booklets including food and drink recipes. One of those was named Sea Breeze and asked for cranberry juice.
Ocean Spray's cranberry juice was also a key ingredient in another 90s classic, the Cosmopolitan.
Eventually, when Absolut started to co-promote the drink in the 1990s, the Sea Breeze was everywhere.
It had everything a drink needed to be successful at that time. It was boozy but still easy to drink, subtly sweet, and slightly sour with a bright color.
And even today, the Sea Breeze is a well-liked summer cocktail. Because it still is refreshing, sweet and sour, and just so easy to make.
More Easy Summer Cocktails
Easy-to-make cocktails are perfect for cooling down during hot summer days. Here are some more recipes you can try: